Hartnett: It’s Bouna Time! Hans Backe Must Call On Coundoul To Solve Red Bulls’ Goalkeeping Crisis

‘Running With The Red Bulls’
By Sean Hartnett
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What time is it?  It’s Bouna Time!  Red Bulls’ head coach Hans Backe must recall Senegalese shot-stopper Bouna Coundoul to into the starting eleven to provide a temporary goalkeeping fix.  Number one keeper Greg Sutton’s confidence and command of his area has slipped to the point that Backe will be forced to pull the plug on the Canadian.

Coundoul isn’t far removed from the fine form of a season ago that allowed him to achieve a career best goal against average of 1.04.  He was an ever-present throughout the Red Bulls’ 2010 campaign but appearances in 2011 have been few and far between for the former Martin L. King Jr. High School standout.  Coundoul has been relegated to the bench since a disastrous start on May 15th against Chivas USA where he surrendered three goals including one that bizarrely squeaked through his legs.

Over the recent stretch of games, Sutton has virtually played his way out of the starting keeper role.  He appears to have lost the self-assured mentality that is required to be competent at his position.  The evidence presented over the past two away matches against the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders leave Backe little choice but to make the switch back to Coundoul.

On Thursday night in Seattle, Sutton looked like a shattered figure.  It would be harsh to blame him for the opening goal which was wonderfully worked by Erik Friberg as he shook Dane Richards and curled in a beautiful shot.  If anyone was it blame, it was Stephen Keel who didn’t step up with enough authority as Sutton was screened.  The following goal that came a minute later was completely Sutton’s fault.  An obstruction on him by Fredy Montero should have been spotted by the referee but Sutton seemed more focused on appealing for the call than keeping his focus.

I have some sympathy for Sutton as New York’s set piece defending has been pitiful of late but he still must be replaced.  13 of the last 18 goals conceded by the Red Bulls have come through opponent set piece opportunities.  The return of first choice central defensive pairing Rafael Marquez and Tim Ream couldn’t come sooner as their presence is needed to bring stability to these situations.  The duo will miss out on Sunday’s match against the Chicago Fire but will return from the Gold Cup Final in time for the Red Bulls’ following league match in San Jose on July 2nd.

Even without the suspended Thierry Henry, ailing Luke Rodgers unavailable Juan Agudelo, the Red Bulls found a way back into the match.  A makeshift forward paring of Richards and Dwayne De Rosario succeeded in their place by threatening Seattle keeper Kasey Keller.  You couldn’t fault the Red Bull attack as they held up their end of the bargain by responding to even the match at 2-2 through goals from Richards and Jan Gunnar Solli’s deflected effort.

Possibly still affected by earlier events, Sutton got worse as the night went on and surrendered two goals to Roger Levesque.  The first could be equally attributed to poor set piece marking and Sutton’s positioning but the second was a shocker as he looked like a deer in the headlights on a simple back-pass allowing Levesque to march in.  This killed any chance of a Red Bull comeback as they trailed 4-2 with only twelve minutes remaining.

Coundoul certainly has the backing of the supporters as message board fanatics agree that it’s time for him return between the sticks.  Whereas the aging Sutton struggles with his mobility, Coundoul is an acrobatic figure who seems to inspire confidence in his back four.  He might not be the long-term answer as the Red Bulls could search for an upgrade in net once the July transfer window opens in 22 days.

At least for now, Backe would be best off giving Coundoul an audition to see if he can reproduce his stunning displays of a season ago.  For the moment, it should be ‘Bouna Time’ once again.

Is Bouna the replacement the Red Bulls require or should Backe continue persevere with Sutton? If so, do have confidence that Bouna can reclaim the starting role or should the Red Bulls search for an upgrade in the transfer market?  Sound off below and send your tweets to @HartyLFC.

  • Santástico

    I’ve just discovered this coverage of Red Bulls soccer by accident. It’s fantastic to see.

    Author’s page = bookmarked.

  • Martin

    Great read…….

  • Jeremy

    I hope by mid summer it isnt bouna time or sutton time. Both guys are sub par.

  • pepe

    Bouna did ok today …there was one lltle mistake that did cost us 2 points.,but I’ll take the tie over a loss any time :)

  • tilt215

    NY needs a real starting keeper and neither bouna or Bouna can make the difficult saves but always seems to botch the easy ones. Todays match against chicago was a perfect example of that

    • herbf

      True, although every team in this league (indeed, anywhere) is going to have a weakest link. We’ll have Bouna in goal for a few games, he’ll make his usual gaffes (as well as, I’m sure, some nice saves) and, unless we go on a winning streak, Sutton will start to look better and better. So we’ll switch to Greg and we’ll welcome the change for a bit but, again, after a while he’ll make HIS usual gaffes and Bouna will start looking better and better. Rinse and repeat.

  • Greg

    It’s just absolutely infuriating to drop points because of a keeper. Sutton’s play has been a joke for over a month. I’ve lost count of the amount of points NY has dropped because of him.

  • Predicting

    a clean sheet with Bouna back in the lineup against Chicago. He can make the athletic stops this team needs to win with Keel and Miller in the back.

  • Alex

    Sutton has finally imploded! Hope “Clever” Hans is objective with his decsion here and places Bouna in net for Sunday. However there is always a method to Hans’ madness!!! Should be for an interesting game either way. Looking forward to seeing a rested Henry taking command!

    • hartylfc

      Having Henry back against the Fire should definitely be a boost for the Red Bulls are in need of one after the Sounders loss. With him the lineup, everyone is a bit more composed. Credit to the Red Bulls’ attack for not wilting after Sutton’s errors and continuing to fight on. – Sean Hartnett

  • nathan

    Agree about Coundoul but please excuse me for millering this thread a moment: Would someone at WFAN PLEASE consider doing a one or two hr weekly soccer show? And if you do, please don’t put it 3-5 am on a weekday. There are THOUSANDS of us footy fans in nyc. Can we get a little love too?

  • Redbuller

    We really really need a dp goalkeeper.

  • Nick Z

    I truly believe that Sutton has lost the mental edge he needs being a goalie. Please Hans give Bouna a shot back in net. Sutton has given up way to many goals (a lot of them he could have saved) and its BOUNA TIME!!!

  • Chris

    Just 1 week ago I was defending Sutton against the taunts of some of my friends. “Sutton doesn’t make the mental mistakes that Bouna does,” I told them. “Most of all, our players have confidence when Sutton has the ball at his feet.” I can’t remember the last time a Red Bulls player was able to shatter my beliefs so quickly and thoroughly (and the team’s history is littered with washouts and never-will-bes).

    Sutton’s legendarily bad performance last night, combined with his merely catastrophic performance against Portland, has forced the coach’s hand. Often times, when a head coach sticks with a beleaguered keeper, it can be interpreted as a sign of strength and resolve. In Backe’s case, however, if he does not reinstate Bouna Time next week, his decision will be viewed by the fans as nothing more than a blissful ignorance, a willingness to overlook a severe problem that is harming the team’s on-field performance.

  • Aaron

    Please, Hans, for the love of God, put Bouna back in there!

  • James

    I’d like to see the return of Bouna as well, but as stubborn as we know Backe is, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sutton out there. My hope is Bouna starts on Sunday, but if he doesn’t he should for the Open Cup, on Tuesday, and with a good performance there, his motivation should come back after what Backe put him though earlier in the season.

  • James

    RBNY’s next match is on Sunday at Chicago at 2pm, not July 2nd. With the Gold Cup on Saturday, the duo of Marquez and Ream most likely won’t make an appearance, I can only hope they’d be given minutes for the Open Cup match on Tuesday against FC New York, in preparation for the San Jose game.

    • hartylfc

      Thanks for clearing that up. The schedule I had in front of me had deceived me when I was writing this late last night. – Sean Hartnett

      • James

        Not a problem, thanks again for the articles! Can’t wait for more coverage.

  • Jay Walk

    A friend reminded me that Sutton doesn’t seem to be the same after the concussion he suffered and given what’s been happening since he’ came back, I’d have to agree.

    I like Sutton but unless we put in Horwath who hasn’t exactly been doing well in the reserve games, Bouna should come back.

    With that said, Sutton’s not the only one to blame. That backline need to work its kinks out.

  • Truman

    Bouna had one bad game and got yanked. Sutton is having multiple games now, and does not have the movement that Bouna does. Time to make the switch, this time for good.

  • Matthew Conroy

    Has to be Bouna back in goal. You cannot allow Sutton to start again after two performances like that.

  • Jan Vesely's Tongue

    I can’t see how Sutton starts after this game. Then again, Hans really does love his system and the players that supposedly work well in said system. See Ballouchy, Mehdi for reference.

    • hartylfc

      It’s surprising that Ballouchy is an automatic in Backe’s starting XI. I would have liked to have seen De Rosario used in his regular role with Hertzog used up front with Henry suspended, Rogers injured and Agudelo away at the Gold Cup. – Sean Hartnett

      • Jim

        totally agree. With our players retuning from Gold Cup action, hopefully Ballouchy finds his way to the bench and stays there. Very well written article as well.

  • Jamaica Qns

    I’m generally a fan of Backe, but his handling of the goalkeeping situation has been a definite low point for him.

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